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Interior Paint for Vintage Drums

A big topic amongst vintage collectors and drum restorers is why many of the major drum companies painted the interiors of their drum shells. One of the biggest question is if they did it for the sound. My opinion is it was never a sound issue but a way to cut corners. Basically it would take less time to make the interior as nice as the exterior and also it was a way to cover up imperfections in the ply material. This saved time and money and allowed them to build drums faster.

So, can we now say that the interior of a drum is affected by the interior finish? I would say yes, but the sound to most ears is probably not that noticeable.

So, the question to a vintage historian and a vintage collector is will the drum value change if they repaint the interiors of vintage drums. The answer of course is multi faceted, but in general as soon as you alter an original vintage drum then it lowers the value.

So when is it a OK? Well, the debate has raged on in many forums and there are two sides that will fight this until the sun goes down, but if you have a set of drums, they are your drums and you can do whatever you want to do to them.

So, if they are really beat up, been altered, painted over or if you are taking orphan drum shells and trying to make a complete matching kit then it is time to start painting! The next thing to figure out is what paint to use for the drums you have.

Ludwig White Interiors - Benjamin Moore Regal Semi Gloss Finish N333 (Formerly - Benjamin Moore Aqua Glo White)

Just to make it very clear, with Ludwig drums there are transition shells that might not fit these dates with a different ply make-up. Also, on drums with wood finished exteriors that were lacquered then the exterior ply would normally be maple. This is not an exact science and the cross over drums between changes add a twist to the history of Ludwig.

Ludwig Shells Basic shell information 3-Ply Shells Shell Material Interior
1960   Mahogany/Poplar/Mahogany Clear Lacquer
1961-1967?     White Paint
1968 Switched to clear interiors and also the baseball bat mufflers Maple/Poplar/Maple Clear Interior
1976 3ply shells switched to 6 ply shells some time in 1976-77    
Ludwig Date Stamps
Date stamping started around 1956 with larger numbers and letters in red ink, then in 1961-1962 stampings were still red, but with slightly smaller characters. In 1963 shells can be found with red or black ink stamps. (Rob Cook)

Gretsch Silver Interiors - Galvanized Fence Paint  

Just like Ludwig, Gretsch had transition times when shells are used up or sealer was added. So there are exceptions to the below timeline. This is not an exact science and the dates can be challenged by these anomalies.

Gretsch Shells Basic shell information Shell Material Interior
Pre Mid 50's 3-ply shells   Clear
1957, 58 - ? Jaspar Shells 6-ply   Silver Sealer
Gretsch Paper Tags
There has been a lot of discussion about this and some contradicting information. But the general consencus is that the paper tags started some time around 1962 or 1963.

Slingerland Tan Interiors -

It was generally sprayed on, with thickness varying quite a bit from so thin as to be barely noticeable to so thick as to be completely opaque. Due to this thickness variation the appearance and shading of weak chocolate varied also. DrCJW
Paint configuration coming soon..

We already have an extensive history section about the shells and ply-configuration on Slingerland Drums by DrCJW... All of this info comes from the forum and post by DrCJW..

The tan interiors were from 1966-1970. Click here to visit the Slingerland History Section.

Slingerland Stamps
Slingerland used standard off-the-shelf rubber date stamps. This particular one, still available today, has rubber wheels with selectable date in month-day-year format, such as JUN 15 1966. The day wheels both contain an X character. If the guy in the shell room decided to include the day in the stamp, he did. If he didn't care about the day, he might just use the X. Or he might use the dash -, which is also standard on the wheel, and which we also often see on 60's Slingerland shell interiors. Taken from DrCJW post on

Caution: Make sure your interiors are the correct color and not faded. If you want an exact match to your interiors, take the drum to the paint store. Original Shell Interior
Click image for Larger Photo

Rogers Gray - Krylon flat gray primer

Very close match to the original finish
Rogers Granitone Interiors - Zolatone
Info from Marley
Silver Gray 20-72
Rogers Granitone Interiors - Trunk Spray
Info from TommyP
Gray - White
Web Site

Special note: Wood Dynasonic snare drums, from the first one in 1963 up to when they were discontinued in 1973... (although Rogers came out with the NEW wooden XP8 series Dynasonics in the early 80's which were all maple with NATURAL ineriors, no paint ) ... were NEVER painted on the inside. The very first wood Dynasonics were said to be based/built on the "Holiday" model shell, thus they were 3 ply shells with 3 ply rings... but no paint. The inner plies were stained with what Rogers called a "Fruitwood" stain. Later wooden Dynasonics after serial #7500, were now 5 ply shells and 5 ply rings. The interior ply was natural maple featuring beautiful finish grade wood. It was left natural, and received a coat of clear lacquer.

Wood Powertone snare drums never had the "flat grey" paint but instead featured a "glossy gray" on their interiors. Of interest is that the Tower and the Luxor model snare drums shared the same shell as the Powertone, but received "flat gray" on the interiors, not glossy!

Some Rogers Info from a TommyP post.

The OHIO built Rogers drums from 1964 on are the ones that are most sought after, ( sizes aside ) and those will INCLUDE both Cleveland and Dayton. The main reasons are the attention and pride given to QUALITY at this point in the company's history, and the fact that the shells themselves were old growth and very dense. Couple that with the HEAVY cast Beavertail lugs and nice quality hoops, and you have a smokin' sounding/playing drum kit. The Swivo-Matic hardware speaks for itself, as well as being very heavily copied by EVERYBODY and their brother!

The Fullerton built Rogers, while still being Rogers!, did start to suffer in the "quality" department... not right away, but pretty quickly. The switch to lighter cast metal, and cast versus machined hardware/mounts also contributed. The NEW trunk paint sprayed on the interiors of the shells wasn't as dense as the old flat grey, and that combined with slightly lesser quality/lighter wood shells, also factors into a slightly different sound to the drums themselves. Again, still pretty nice, but nowhere near as cherished as the older '64 to '68 Rogers drums... and these are the ones that always seem to have the BEST resale as well as collectible value. Sound is a given... they're Rogers!

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